Operation Black Antler

Operation Black Antler is a critically acclaimed immersive theatre piece, which in June 2016, took place in a secret location in Chatham, Kent.

Co-commissioned by Ideas Test and fresh from its world premiere at the 2016 Brighton Festival, Operation Black Antler is an immersive theatre piece that invited the audience to enter the murky world of undercover surveillance and question the morality of state-sanctioned spying. The participant assumed the role of an undercover cop as part of a small team, briefed and then sent into an undercover operation. From a first-hand perspective they made the decisions and then reflected on the consequences of the decisions.

Audiences assumed the role of an undercover officer and explored the ethics of surveillance, power and control in this groundbreaking immersive theatre piece. Co-created by four-times BAFTA nominated artists group Blast Theory and celebrated immersive theatre company Hydrocracker, Operation Black Antler places its audience in the role of an undercover police officer in order to question the morality and ethics of spying. Wikileaks, the Snowden affair and the revelations about the Special Demonstration Squad show that secret forces within the state have little respect for the law. In Operation Black Antler the audience is given power and control and you have to choose how to exercise it.

Ideas Test is about empowering people to live more creative lives and Operation Black Antler offered communities the chance not only to experience a world class immersive theatre piece but also to play an active role in creating it.

What the audience thought
“Fabulous! The use of local people and various non-theatrical venues made this wonderful community immersive theatre. Thank you for bringing the production to Chatham.”
Audience Member

“Participating in theatre is terrifying and we should probably do more of it.”
Audience Member

“It’s a powerful, bewildering, unnerving experience, both during and for a considerable time after. I’m affected by what I have done, even though I know it is a fiction. And maybe worse, I know that I am willing to do what I have done again.”
WOW Magazine, Kent

Community Cast
The production featured a North Kent community cast, who will be working alongside professional actors to bring this intense and affecting piece to Chatham. To recruit the community cast Ideas Test did an open call for people to get involved. The community cast was for anyone who wanted to have an experience that they will never have had before.

The community cast developed characters alongside Hydrocracker and Blast Theory and people took part as actors, backstage and technical team.

“Wonderful, really exploratory, creative, really lovely atmosphere. It’s the involvement in the community that’s the most important thing. Someone here said that they wanted to make theatre or art that helped people change the way they think.”
Nik, Community Cast

“I am finding the politics of the piece totally resonating with what’s going on at the moment with the campaigning for the European Referendum. Which I think is quite difficult to watch, or hear sometimes, but I am trying to look at these issues through the eyes and ears of my character!”
Rosie, Community Cast